First Amendment to our Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It is these words of this First Amendment that make America different from every other country in the world. However, all too frequently we are now seeing these cherished rights come under attack by not only Islamic totalitarian regimes, but also the West’s politically correct activists and progressive fellow travelers.
A recent example of such an attack took place recently in Garland, Texas, when a “Draw Muhammad” contest, organized by head of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and free-speech activist Pamela Geller. Attendees were subjected to an unsuccessful attack by two Muslims as self-appointed enforcers of Islam’s blasphemy law, and also by the mainstream media, including Fox News. Their basic theme was that she shouldn’t have held the contest because she knew there would be violent reactions from Muslims.
The takeaway: Don’t criticize or take a position that might “offend” the seventh-century sensibilities of the followers of Islam, who view our freedoms of expression as heresy. According to the politically correct activists, it is better to submit than to offend the followers of Islam, who might get violent and go on a “justifiable” rampage.
We witnessed the same type of violent reaction to political cartoons of Muhammad published by the Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January. Twelve innocent people lost their lives because of the medieval mentality of the enforcers of Islam, who viewed the cartoons as heresy. There was no justification for these wanton killings.
Clearly, there is an intensifying global campaign to impose Islamic blasphemy law on all non-Muslim societies. This campaign is led by the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has been hard at work to sponsor a United Nations resolution insisting that all countries criminalize what it calls “defamation of religion” (code for Islam). The OIC rejects our First Amendment rights of free speech and religion. The organization is in the 10th year of its 10-year program to achieve this objective, known as the Istanbul Process. When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, she strongly endorsed the OIC’s objectives to limit our First Amendment rights — and now she wants to be our president.
Shariah blasphemy law has its roots in the teachings of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. In the early days of justifying his wanton violence, those who mocked him was put to death. Over the centuries, that theme became enshrined into Islamic law. Henceforth, anything considered blasphemous to Islam or Muhammad is a crime punishable by death. In that sense, we should not forget when President Obama was speaking before the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2012, in regard to the YouTube video said to have been the cause of the Benghazi tragedy, he stated, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” So much for our First Amendment.
Regretfully, submission to the medieval sensibilities of Islam is much more widespread than most Americans realize. It is fundamentally embedded in our failed counterinsurgency strategy, which drove our war in Afghanistan in the failed hope of winning the hearts and minds of a tribal society. It cost the loss of many American and coalition military and civilian lives, unnecessarily, due primarily to the restricted Rules of Engagement used by our forces.
Furthermore, our forces were made, in effect, to submit to accepting medieval Islamic customs and traditions involving polygamy, sexual abuse of children, wife beating and killing. Of course, above all else, the holy Koran, not to be touched by our infidel warriors, had to be revered at all costs. Failure to observe these medieval customs by our military was used as excuses for wanton violence and killings. Our proud Marines at Gitmo were reduced to infidel status, forced to wear gloves so as not to contaminate the Koran, and were subjected to mockery by the terrorists’ inmates.
The capitulation on our fundamental values and traditions of free speech, human rights and family values could only occur under debased military and civilian leadership. In his June 4, 2009, “Outreach to Muslims” speech in Cairo, President Obama declared that “he considered it his responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam whenever they appear.” That should leave no doubt where his sympathies lie.
It would surprise most Americans to know how widespread Shariah blasphemy law is in this country today. For example, the major U.S. Muslim Jurists Association supports Islamic blasphemy law. Those Muslims who want to live under Shariah law should move to a country that supports it.
We clearly have a crisis. Our fundamental freedoms are being challenged. Too many Americans have paid the ultimate price to guarantee those freedoms. They must be preserved. Political correctness and the fear of offending the medieval sensitivities of Islam must be addressed head-on. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt called for the reformation of Islam, which has not happened in more than 1,300 years. This call should be embraced. When regimes like ISIS appear, they must be defeated militarily and unmistakably. There is no other option.
• James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.